Tonight we are gathering to discuss chapters 4-6 of C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. One of the pitfalls in reading this book is that we all know individuals, particularly public religious figures, that are represented by these Ghosts. Like, the Pharisee in the parable, we can then proudly say “Thank God, I’m not like them.” See, Luke 18:9-14. And once we have a feeling of moral superiority to one of the Ghosts, we can simply getting back on the bus to Gray Town ourselves. Lewis intends the book to be read, not by looking outward, but by looking inward and seeing the ghosts within ourselves.
Apropos to chapter 4, in my extra readings this week, I came across Luther’s commentary on Galatians 2:16a – “Yet know that a man is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Jesus Christ.” Within his commentary, Luther repeatedly emphasizes the entirety of the Old Testament law is abolished in Jesus Christ, including the Ten Commandments, because otherwise, we will continuously seek justification under the Law. Luther is writing to those of us, like the Fat Man Ghost, who have gone straight all our life and now believe we have a right to enter heaven. For Luther, seeking justification through the Law isn’t simply going about salvation the wrong way, but is the wholesale rejection of God himself:
Without our merit—since, after all, we cannot merit anything—He wants to give us forgiveness of sins, righteousness, and eternal life for the sake of Christ. For God is He who dispenses His gifts freely to all, and this is the praise of His deity. But He cannot defend this deity of His against the self-righteous people who are unwilling to accept grace and eternal life from Him freely but want to earn it by their own works. They simply want to rob Him of the glory of His deity. (¶13)
We are not discussing Luther tonight, but I would encourage you to read his argument regarding the comprehensive nature of grace which sweeps aside all things in its path. This is the argument that the murderer in Chapter 4 makes and which the Fat Man rejects. (I came across the commentary on Luther Reading Challenge which will periodically post another letter, hymn, or except from Luther for discussion. If you are interested in Martin Luther’s writing, this is an excellent place to start.)
SCHEDULE: Tuesday, April 11 will be our Seder Dinner. Everyone is invited, but we need to know who is coming to make sure we have sufficient seating. Please email me or sign-up on Tuesday if you plan to join us.
Dinner is at 6. The menu is corned beef and cabbage. Discussion about 6:45. Hope to see you here.
This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.1 Timothy 1:15